A desperated attempt to play a more direct game, (as expected) lots of counter attacks and a Thomas Kraft mistake lead to the third loss in a row and make a Champions League qualification more and more unlikely.
It was obvious: No matter what happens, Bayern can’t publicly win this match. If they beat Hannover, they do what they were supposed to do, win against a team with a small budget. If they lose, they’re embarrassed by a team with more points. Sounds weird but that’s what the media say (and, in the end, influence the teams just enough so that they also think it’s true).
All media obligations aside, this was a crucial match to not lose sight of the CL qualification spots. The timing of this game wasn’t great for either team: Bayern, still recovering from the midweek loss v Schalke, had to replace both central midfielders. Schweinsteiger was suspended after his 5th booking of the season against Dortmund and Luiz Gustavo was unavailable due to a cold. Hannover had to go without their top scorer Didier Ya Konan who is still injured but should be back soon.
The difference: It hardly had any impact on 96’s starting lineup, one striker replaced another, but a huge impact on Bayern’s formation. Louis van Gaal once again decided to change the entire defense: Danijel Pranjic moved to midfield and Holger Badstuber returned but not as center back but as left-back. If you think those changes were necessary, here are two alternative lineups that wouldn’t have changed that much:
Hannover used their usual 4-4-2 formation they’ve been so successful with.
The match started and it became apparent immediately that Hannover’s game plan wasn’t any different from their usual one. They played a defense-first approach, although not even comparable with Schalke’s ultra-defensive strategy, and relied on fast-paced counter attacks to hurt the vulnerable Bayern defense/playmaking line. The FCB knew that they have to play a less static game to find success but it looked terrible. Instead of adding off-the-ball movement to the possession-based approach they were hectic and without any chemistry.
The inevitable happened after 15 minutes: Pranjic, almost panicky looking for a teammate in the mess, lost the ball. Hannover reacted quickly, Rausch’s cross found Mohammed Abdellaoue, 1-0 H96. Read this paragraph two or three times, that was the first half. Bayern were lucky to have only conceded one goal.
For the second half, Holger Badstuber was finally subbed off. He was simply the wrong decision for the left-back position, the young German international is too slow to cope with fast-paced, wide counter attacks. But before Bayern could take control of the match, Hannover scored a second one. Rausch’s shot was slightly redirected by Mario Gomez but just enough to go past Thomas Kraft. A couple of minutes later, Arjen Robben’s header revived Bayern. And again a few minutes later, a Sergio Pinto shot was the neckbreaker. Thomas Kraft couldn’t handle the maliciously moving ball. Neither was he the first nor will he be the last victim of Pinto’s long-range shots.
Needless to say that the team was highly frustrated. When Lars Stindl interfered with Breno’s legs while he was trying to control the ball, the Brazilian has had enough and kicked his opponent’s legs in return. Not an overly vicious attack but totally unavoidable, the red card was not mandatory but understandable.
From then on, Bayern played the last 20 minutes without a center back. Daniel van Buyten (who replaced Tymoshchuk for the second half) joined Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose unsuccessfully trying to convert the long balls into scoring chances. Hannover could and should have scored at least one more goal but they wasted their chances. But even without a fourth goal it was more than enough for Hannover who now can start to dream of Champions League football. For Louis van Gaal this might have been his last match as Bayern coach. The current situation almost forces Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to react. Let’s hope they realize that the coach is not to blame for everything and that a team can be improved even if it’s successful. 2011 transfer market, prepare yourself for some massive spending.
Goals: 1-0 Abdellaoue (16′), 2-0 Rausch (49′), 2-1 Robben (55′), 3-1 Pinto (62′)
Hannover 96: Sofian Chahed (Rausch, 77′), Moritz Stoppelkamp (Schlaudraff, 81′), Mario Eggimann (Stindl, 87′)
FC Bayern: Andreas Ottl (Badstuber, 46′), Daniel van Buyten (Tymoshchuk, 46′), Miroslav Klose (Kroos, 69′)
Other Bundesliga matches:
Dortmund v Cologne 1-0 (Lewandowski)
Stuttgart v Schalke 1-0 (Kuzmanovic)
Gladbach v Hoffenheim 2-0 (Daems, de Camargo)
Frankfurt v Kaiserslautern 0-0
Nuremberg v St. Pauli 5-0 (Wollscheid, Eigler x4)
Leverkusen v Wolfsburg 3-0 (Bender, Augusto, Kießling)
Freiburg v Bremen – Sunday
Hamburg v Mainz – Sunday
Next match: Saturday v Hamburg (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm local time